MOODY — Central Texas residents are invited to celebrate the new year outside with family and friends at Mother Neff State for Texas Parks and Wildlife’s annual First Day Hike event.

Last year, the park set a First Day Hike record for Texas state parks.

For 2018 “the little park that could” will have its sights for another successful year.

Participants will hike through the limestone gullies to Tonkawa Cave, walk up the steps to the Rock Tower, and view the restoration projects that are in progress in the prairie.

Bring a water bottle and join a park ranger for a hike on Jan. 1. The park will have four ranger-led hikes beginning at 9 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. These hikes will take walkers through much of the park.

Starting at 9 a.m., a 1.5-mile hike will begin in the camping loop and take participants through the forest and canyon to Tonkawa Cave and the Rock Tower. A separate 1.5 mile ranger-led hike will begin at the same time at the prairie loop trailhead and take hikers through the prairie, where restoration projects are underway to bring back native wildflowers and grasses to its natural setting.

The hikes will begin again at 2 p.m. Be sure to arrive 30-45 minutes early to give plenty of time too check-in at the park headquarters.

The hikes in the prairie will be on more leveled and less strenuous trails as the hikes through the forest and canyon will have several natural and man-made steps.

Nothing fancy is required; hikers should be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress weather appropriate.

Pets are welcomed but must be on a leash no longer than six feet. Because of the terrain of the trails, strollers and other wheeled devices are not recommended. Because of limited parking, hikers are asked to consider carpooling.

First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage family and friends to get outdoors to start the New Year healthy and outside.

The First Day Hike is free; however, a park entrance fee of $2 per person 13 and older does apply. Children 12 & under are admitted free.

For more information, call 254-853-2389, check on Facebook, or go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/mother_neff.

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